If you’ve recently set up an ecommerce business, you may be considering opening a business bank account. Let’s take a closer look at how they work and how to choose the best one.
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Do you need a business bank account to run an ecommerce business?
You won’t necessarily have to open a business bank account to run an ecommerce business. However, this will depend on whether you’ve set up your business as a limited company or whether you’re currently a sole trader.
If your business is a limited company in the UK and you’ve registered it with Companies House, you will be legally required to open a business bank account as your business is a separate legal entity from you as an individual.
On the other hand, if like many businesses in the UK, you are a sole trader, your business is not legally separate from you and there is no obligation to open a business bank account. However, it can still be worth opening one as you’ll be able to clearly see the divide between your own income and expenditure, and your business.
You should also note that some banks may specify that personal current accounts are used for personal reasons only. They may threaten to close your personal account if they spot a large number of business-related transactions.
Benefits of an online bank account for ecommerce purposes
When comparing business bank accounts for ecommerce purposes, you’ll come across traditional high street bank options that will allow you to carry out some of your transactions in branch, as well as online only accounts.
Choosing a business bank account that can be opened and managed online has a number of benefits. For a start, these accounts are designed to incur fewer overhead costs and those savings are often passed on to the customer. This means online accounts tend to have lower service and maintenance costs, they may pay higher rates of interest and transactions generally clear faster than they do with a high street bank.
Most online banks also offer an app, allowing you to manage your account on the go and get notified when money is paid in or out of your account. Many will also include budgeting tools and integrate with accounting software to help you keep on top of your invoices and tax returns.
If your business also trades abroad, some online accounts will offer low-fee foreign transactions and let you hold money in different currencies.
What should you look out for when choosing a business bank account?
When comparing business bank accounts, you’ll need to keep the following in mind:
- Is there a monthly account fee?
- Are there transaction fees (for example, for transfers in and out, and direct debits)?
- Does the account have an overdraft and, if so, how much will you be charged?
- How can the account be opened and managed?
- Does the account offer additional tools and support, such as budgeting, accounting and invoicing?
- Will you be charged for using your debit card?
Some business bank accounts won’t charge a monthly maintenance fee for the first year or so, but fees will kick in after that. Having fees waived for the first year may be helpful if your business is just starting out.
What you should look for when selling internationally?
If you trade internationally, it’s important to compare business bank accounts to see how much you’ll be charged each time you carry out a foreign transaction. You’ll need to consider what exchange rate you’ll be charged, as well as additional fees for sending or receiving money internationally.
Many digital only accounts will let you carry out a set number of foreign transactions per month either free of charge or for a small fee. Make sure you compare these costs carefully.
Depending on where you sell, you may also need to hold different currencies in your business account. Some digital banks will offer accounts in euros and/or dollars, while others will offer a multi-currency account that will let you transact in several currencies from the one account.
Pros and cons of a business bank account for ecommerce
- Allows you to better manage your business finances and keep them separate from your own.
- Can help you build a credit rating for your ecommerce business.
- A dedicated business bank account can make your business seem more professional to clients.
- Some accounts offer low-cost foreign transactions.
- Many business accounts charge a monthly fee.
- Fees often apply to transactions – though you may have a free monthly allowance.
- You’ll have 2 accounts to manage – a personal account and a business one.
Opening a business bank account for ecommerce purposes has a number of benefits, but primarily it can make juggling your business expenditure with your own that much easier. This will also be beneficial when you come to do your tax return.
When deciding which business bank account is best for your ecommerce business, you’ll need to consider how you plan to run the account and what you need from it. For example, if your business is a startup, your priority may be to keep costs as low as possible – in which case, you’ll need an account that offers decent transaction limits and a low monthly fee.
Frequently asked questions
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